I am reposting this editorial by Roy Herron, Chairman of the Tennessee Democratic Party, which appeared in the Commercial Appeal. It was emailed to me, distributed by the Tennessee Democratic Party. This is one of the most disgusting examples of an attempt to label Republicans as the party of racist I have seen in a long, long time. My comments are in brackets in blue.
2014 is the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In the following op-ed, published in the home city of the National Civil Rights Museum, Chairman Roy Herron reflects on how too many Republicans still rely on the same racially charged politics of the past.
By Roy Herron, Special to The Commercial Appeal
Fifty years ago, when President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, that I was in elementary school and had no clue about the law that would drastically change daily life for African-Americans. I surely had no idea how it would improve life for white Americans like me.
This historic legislation outlawed discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion or national origin at “places of public accommodation.” The movie theater I frequented had to discard its “coloreds only” entrance and the segregated balcony. Restaurants where we ate had to let African-Americans out of the kitchens and into the dining areas. My future friends, like state Sen. Reggie Tate of Memphis, were no longer excluded from admission to the Mid-South Fair six days a week.
[Well, why start with the 64 Civil Rights Act and public accomodations. In 1957 President Dwight Eisenhower, a Republican, deployed the 82nd Airborne Division to desegregate the Little Rock, Ark., schools over the resistance of Democrat Gov. Orval Faubus.That was a pretty big event in the civil rights struggle. Also, don't forget Republican Abraham Lincoln who freed the slaves it you want to go back a little further.]
The new law gave the U.S. attorney general authority to seek redress when school boards deprived students “of the equal protection of the laws.” Two years later, my school in Weakley County, Tennessee, was desegregated. And for the first time, I began to spend time daily with African-American children. I had new friends in the classrooms, and the lessons went beyond reading and writing.
[Herron fails to mention that the Democrats filibustered the bill for 74 days in the Senate and that the leader of the filibuster was Democrat Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.), himself a former Grand Dragon of the Ku Klux Klan. 82% of Senate Republicans supported the bill and only 69% of Senate Democrats. In the House 80% of the Republicans supported the bill and only 63% of House Democrats]
After signing the Civil Rights Act, President Johnson said to an aide, “We (Democrats) have lost the South for a generation.” The president underestimated the political impact, which continues now two generations later.
[The South did not immediately turn Republican over Civil Rights issues. There was also the fact that the Democrat Party launched the Great Society that wasted millions of dollars and did next to nothing to eradicate poverty. The Democrat Party changed. It became what would be called a Socialist Party in Europe and the Democrat Party was the party that abandoned their anti-communism and became the party of appeasement and military weakness. Those factors contributed to the political realignment. Anyway, in the '68 election the four States of the Deep South went for George Wallace of the Independence Party, not the Republican Party. And, in '72 the South voted Republican but so did all of the nation except for Massachusetts and the District of Columbia. The Democrat nominee was anti-war Senator George McGovern. In '76 the South went for Jimmy Carter. The Republicans courted southerns, but it was not on the basis of race.]
In 1966, just two years later, the people of Tennessee for the first time popularly elected a Republican to the U.S. Senate. [And that Republican was Senator Howard Baker Jr. Mr. Herron are you alleging Howard Baker Jr. won because of an appeal to racism? That is just not so. There was never a more decent man than Howard Baker Jr.] In 1968, in Memphis, the sanitation workers went on strike and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was struck down. In Nashville the Republicans took control of the state House of Representatives for the first time since Reconstruction. Then in 1970, Tennessee elected a second Republican to the U.S. Senate, throwing out Democratic Sen. Albert Gore Sr. [Good ol' Albert Gore Sr. who voted against the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and who joined in the filibuster.] [While like the rest of the South, Tennessee was controlled by segregationist Democrats, east Tennessee was always overwhelmingly Republican. Republican voting habits took hold in the civil war in east Tennessee. East Tennessee being mountainous, was not as conducive to the plantation economy as most of the rest of the South. While there were some slave-owners in east Tennessee, there were not many. East Tennessee was pro-union and against session and many east Tennesseans volunteered to fight for the Union. After the war, east Tennessee remained a Republican strong hold, so when in the 60's and 70's Republicans started making inroads into the south, there was already a Republican Party in Tennessee.]
Despite the backlash, the Civil Rights Act changed customs and changed society. With those changes, what could not have been imagined in 1964 became reality in 2008: An African-American was elected president.
Yet some Republicans responded to this historic progress with crude jokes and racist appeals to fellow bigots. [Some? How many? I never heard in anti-Obama appeal made on the basis of race.] In just one of many examples, a Tennessee Republican state legislative aide sent e-mails caricaturing President Barack Obama’s official portrait as two cartoon eyes peering from a black background. When in 2010 I ran for Congress, racism was too easy to find. I can still see the angry face of the man at the duck supper who responded to my handshake with “Lemme talk with you about your (N-word) president.” And the scowling man at the rodeo who snarled, “I don’t shake hands with darkies or Democrats — and they’re often the same.”[That ignorant jerk was probably not even register to vote.]
Thankfully, most Republicans are not racists. [Well how generous of you to say so.] But while most Republicans would never discriminate, degrade or demean, their leaders’ legislative actions still repress voters and reverse progress.[Mr. Herron, so is wanting people to prove they are who they say they are, before they can vote racist? Is being required to show an ID racist? You must show an Id before you can get a passport, buy a beer, board an airplane, cash a check and do lots of other things. Why is proving you are who you say you are a racist action?]
All over the country, Republicans are pushing new impediments to discourage and decrease voting by minorities and low-income citizens. While Republicans say they oppose big and oppressive government, they rammed through Tennessee’s voter ID law, now notorious as one of the nation’s most burdensome. Only certain government-issued photo ID cards now are acceptable at the polls, after Republicans outlawed using a Social Security card or even photo ID cards from the Memphis public library or the University of Memphis. Those without a driver’s license — nationally, 25 percent of African-Americans — now must go to a driver’s license station to obtain a photo ID card if they wish to vote, but fewer than half of Tennessee’s counties even have such a station.
Republicans claim these laws fight voter fraud, [Voter fraud is a reality. Do you miss the good ole days with Boss Crump bussed in truck loads of Blacks from Mississippi to vote in Memphis Elections?] but instances of persons trying to vote while using someone else’s identity are almost nonexistent. And in a recent study researchers at the University of Southern California showed strong evidence that “discriminatory intent underlies legislative support for (these new) voter identification laws.”
The first book of the Bible teaches, “So God created humankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them.” God’s image does not have a color, but it does have a creed. The Apostle Paul put it this way in Galatians 3: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Our American ideals long have taught that we are one. The Great Seal of the United States proclaims “E pluribus unum” — from many, one.[amen]
But it was just 50 years ago today that statesmen and idealists and people of a deep faith in Almighty God and in America together created the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Let us celebrate their good work for justice and freedom. And let us carry on their good work, so all God’s children can live in peace and love in truth.
[Let us join in celebrating the advancements in Civil Rights, but not distort the truth. Unfortunately, it is the Democrat Party that has sponsored policies that have destroyed the Black family and created a situation in which it is only with extraordinary effort that a person born in poverty can get out of poverty. By subsidizing poverty, it becomes too difficult for people to stop being poor. When one is on public housing, AFDC, foods stamps, medicaid, and all kinds of other freebies, to stop being poor is too expensive. If I was as cynical as Roy Herron, I would assume the Democrats want to keep Black people poor so they will continue to be dependent on government and keep voting Democrat. The next civil rights movement should free Blacks from the liberal plantation and let them join the larger society.]